Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My visit with the staff of the Roosevelt Rough Rider

Last week I was the guest speaker for the journalism class at Roosevelt High, one of my almamaters. This is the second time I was asked to be a guest speaker and each time I go I enjoy the experience, not just because all eyes are on me. No, because I'm actually engaging kids whose shoes I was in when I was in high school. This time around I went on my on own because the focus on me being there was to discuss how the media portrays undocumented students, like me, and other residents and how undocumented residents, like me, are using the media to also change those practices and use it to our advantage. 

That's what I was suppose to focus on, but I tend to trail off every so often and the whole time I just ended up talking about my life tribulations, how I hustle as a writer for my college newspaper, a community newspaper and four blogs, counting this one. Of course I wasn't nervous, why should I be ? I got rid of those inhibitions a long time ago, unlike some people i know. In fact, now I adore the attention that comes with speaking in front of others and telling it like it is. So I described my experiences doing that, went into a few rants about hardships I've experienced and cracked jokes along the way. Knowing these are high school kids, I knew that keeping their attention was crucial, and every curse word made sure I had their attention. Even though it was appropriate, I couldn't help myself. 

So with that said, I'm going to write what I should have said in class if I didn't trail off so much into something completely unrelated to why I was there. Although my ranting may have been random, I made it a point to make a connection that even though I came from economically bad schools like RSH, I'm doing positive things with my life and even though I could play the, "well I'm poor, I don't have papers and my life sucks" card, I don't. I work for everything i have accomplished ONLY because I have great friends helping me along the way. So even though I have a mountain to climb and there are days hen I say "fuck it," I keep on doing what I do and i do work son. So with out further adieu, here is what I should have talked about during my class visit: WARNING !!! THIS GETS PRETTY BORING AND LONG !!!!

~ I find that major media portrays undocumented residents and students in two extremes. One extreme is that they're hard working people making the best of what they have, despite unimaginable odds of them succeeding. The other extreme is that they're lazy, good for nothing space wasters that are dragging the U.S. down with their presence here. It's one or the other and the only time I've seen them portrayed with any kind of fairness is when it's a second, third or fourth generation Mexican American who has succeeded in accomplishing something great thanks to their immigrant parents hard work. 

There are hundreds of hate spouting blogs out there that blame undocumented residents for every problem that's currently afflicting the U.S. The economy is bad because these "people" are here taking up valuable resources and jobs from more deserving americans. I myself don't acknowledge bullshit like that because I know better than that and I know the truth. i have uncles, aunts and cousins working degrading jobs that no one else would take. That's why they're there, because there was a need for an honest, hard working person. They fulfill those kind of jobs and when there aren't jobs like that available, they create their own. 

It's easy for major media to make a group of people the escape goat for problems and just like minority that fought for freedom, respect and equality, we have to struggle and fight for the same rights. My life mirrors that of thousands of other undocumented residents out there n the shadows. Our parents brought us to this country as luggage on the ideal of giving us a better life and greater opportunities at reaching our full potential. In essence that's what has happened, but the cost may have been to great. Just because my parents had good intentions doesn't mean it justifies their decision. 

Here I am, writing and excelling in my studies, making something of myself with the goals of giving back to my community anyway I can, like being a speaker and helping high school students write stories for their school newspaper. I consider myself a reporter who still learning and growing with this ever changing medium. I have a long way to go, but my foundation is solid because I have great teachers and mentors who nurture my creative and artistic talents. They encourage me to continue growing and support my endeavors any way possible. 

as a result I have learned to use newspapers and blogs about changing the misperceptions about undocumented residents. Stereo types can be broken when a face is put behind them. I have seen people grasp ideas because they made some sort of personal connection with undocumented residents. Whether it's because they had family members go through the same hardships or because they have friends who are going through it. What ever the reason, they changed their minds because they were able to see the faces behind the bullshit others put out there. 

I have used media to raise awareness about clubs and events at school and through my personal blog, by using personal experiences and writing about my observations, I'm able to share with others some of the hardships that I deal with on a daily basis. Blogs have given undocumented residents like myself the opportunity to share with the world what we go through and hopefully help others make a more informed decision before making general assumptions about us. Through new media we have the ability to have a say in what is going on by organizing online and spreading the word about positive events and warning others about laws, as well as informing them about said laws at the same time. 

In retrospect, we have the power to use media to help our causes and struggles and bring attention to them. If people aren't actively engaged in what's happening, then things will never get any better.